Ice Cube Trays: Your Passport to Huge Savings
With all the new refrigerators coming with ice makers these days, ice cube trays can regularly be found at yard sales and thrift stores for quite literally, a dime a dozen. What does this mean for you? Big money, that’s what!
Ice cube trays can be used to save you loads of time, and money in the kitchen. Numerous liquids and sauces can be frozen in them, and then stored in gallon freezer bags for future use. Some ideas?
Tomato Sauce or Paste: You can usually find the large cans of this stuff at warehouse stores for around two dollar range. This is much less expensive than the small cans from the grocery store. The frozen cubes also save you from having a half empty can of paste or sauce sitting in your fridge going to waste. Toss the paste in with your soup broth, or a few sauce cubes in the frying pan for taco night.
Left Over Coffee: Frozen coffee cubes work great to make your own gourmet frozen coffee drinks. I like to have some coffee in a pitcher in the fridge as well. That way, when I add the liquid element to the frozen cubes in the blender it doesn’t dilute the strength of the beverage. But then, I’m all about caffeine, so . . .
Soup Stock: Chicken, beef, vegetable . . . whatever kind of stock you freeze in the ice trays, it’ll make your life easier when preparing recipes that only call for a small amount of stock.
Left Over Gravy: Makes a great base for pot pies or as a substitute soup broth item.
Apple Sauce: My best friend swears by this. Since this stuff also comes cheap in the large cans at warehouse stores, the frozen cubes should be great for those who bake often and want to control fat content. I’ve usually been fortunate with friends loading me up with the canned homemade version of the sauce. But this particular friend is a fanatic about researching stuff like this and assures me she has used this technique herself with great success. Keep me posted, readers!
Extra Fresh Herbs: If you have some fresh herbs from the produce section that are about to go bad, chop them up and put them in the cube sections with a bit of water. The frozen cubes are great to add to soups. This is also a way to preserve extra items from your herb garden at the end of the season.
A tip to stay organized with this system and avoid freezer burn from open storage is to pop out each set of frozen product and transfer to a specific gallon – sized freezer bag. In the past, I’ve routinely had gallon bags of tomato sauce cubes, herb cubes, and cubes of chicken stock in the freezer at the same time.
Bonus: Each regular sized cube holds basically two tablespoons of liquid. This means that 2 cubes equals ¼ cup, 4 cubes equals ½ cup, etc. This comes in really handy when recipes call for a specific amount of liquid for a recipe.
Putting the effort into this is worth the time in my opinion. A gallon freezer bag of cubes lasts a reasonably long time, depending on how often you use the product, and provides an enormous savings of time as well as money. Also, considering all you need to do is ladle the liquid into the trays and freeze, it’s not a great deal of time to begin with. It’s one of those “once-a-month-cooking-for-actual-real-people” projects. Those of us with a normal amount of time can actually use this strategy without carving out several extra days a month to make it happen.
Those of you with other suggestions for ice cube tray savings . . . please post your suggestions via the comment box. For example, I’ve heard about trying your own baby food, and I’ve often wondered (as someone getting ready to start a family) if it’s really a workable solution and worth the effort compared to the savings capacity.